Anytime county officials receive money instead of having to spend it, they gladly accept the check.
Brad Schneck, property manager of Starve Hollow State Recreation Area and Jackson-Washington State Forest, recently presented a check for $18,284.65 from the annual timber harvest to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.
Each year, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry allocates 15 percent of timber sale revenue from state forests to counties in which harvests occur.
Here, that comes from the Jackson-Washington State Forest, which has its office in Brownstown.
The money was made possible from two planned timber harvests and a salvage operation due to emerald ash borer on the nearly 7,000 acres managed in Jackson County, Schneck said. The remaining 11,000 acres of the forest is in Washington County.
The three sales impacted less than 3 percent of the state forest in Jackson County for fiscal year 2014-15, Schneck said.
House Enrolled Act 1424 earmarks 50 percent of these revenues to be distributed to rural and volunteer fire departments within the county. The other half of the money goes into the county’s general fund.
Each qualifying fire department can receive an annual distribution of up to $1,000 unless the county legislative body allows more.
In Jackson County, there are nine volunteer fire departments with mutual aid agreements with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Fire Control Headquarters that receive a portion of these funds.
They are among 123 rural and volunteer fire departments in the state that will benefit from this program. The departments are encouraged to use the funds to improve their wildland firefighting capability.
In the state, a record $441,976.92 was distributed to 16 counties. The actual volume of timber sold in the fiscal year, however, was down from the previous year.
Higher timber prices and the timing of timber sale payments to the Department of Natural Resources contributed to the record funding, said Dan Ernst, assistant state forester with the state’s Division of Forestry.
“Although timber sale revenue helps fund several DNR Division of Forestry programs, DNR’s management focus is to improve and maintain forest health for long-term sustainability as required by state law,” Ernst said.
The forestry management practices are based on the best science and nationally accepted standards and conducted in a certified sustainable manner that earns approval from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council, Ernst said.
Monroe County received the most money, $79,294.80, while Harrison County was next with $79,201.85, and then Brown County with $67,082.74 and Washington County with $40,420.28.
In Indiana, state forests contain 1.15 billion board feet, which is the volume measurement of lumber. They grow and add timber volume at a rate of 24.8 million board feet per year.
Managed harvests remove nearly 14 million board feet annually. After harvests, the net volume increases by 10.8 million board feet per year.
The 16 counties and their share of the funds are: